I’m still on this journey and quest to raise little children into adults who rescue others. By rescue, I mean… well… anything. Changing a flat tire is a rescue. Cooking dinner for a busy mom is a rescue. Offering a hug or an encouraging word can rescue someone just in the brink of time. It’s more of a way of being, I suppose, becoming a rescuer. It is a mindset that others are of value and that others are important. Life can bog us down with the thorns and briars and worries of this life (Matt. 13:22). I feel a call to parent in a way that helps our children develop with the idea that serving and loving others should always be on our radar, no matter how busy we are.
One way I think we can begin to grow these qualities and attributes in our children is through our language, topics of conversation and the words that come out of our mouth. The bible says the tongue has the power of life and death (Prov. 18:21). This means we can plant seeds and water them with our words or we can rip out seeds to let them wither with our words. I’ve decided to initiate something I like to call Rescue Speak into our home. I give it a name because naming things, writing them down, or putting them on a list makes me feel productive.
Rescue Speak is this.
(1) Purposeful affirmation of selfless acts. Praise should be pointed and purposeful for it to be easily received by children. If you absent-mindedly say “good job” while pinning a really great chocolate cake recipe then they won’t believe it. And, even if they do, they’ll be wondering what was a good job. Praise should be specific to be meaningful because that way children know what they need to do again to receive more. Contrary to how they act sometimes, they want us to be proud of them. If we praise their acts of sharing, looking out for their siblings, kind words they speak, and thoughtful gestures we are transferring value to them. We are showing them that their actions, particularly their actions towards others, are important. Praising them for being helpful and thoughtful will communicate that we value others. We value thoughtfulness and servant-hearted acts. Ultimately, our children really do care what we value. And the best part is, that after children have begun to think of others for a while they’ll actually start to love it, and hopefully their characters will develop around it.
(2) Using the positive instead of the negative. Another way we can influence our children with our speech is by getting into the habit of using positive language. For example, when your daughter (ahem, or maybe it’s just mine) tries to put their feet on the dining room table you can say “we put our feet in front of us on our chair like this” instead of “do not put your foot on the table.” You are communicating the same thing, requiring the same result, but just being more positive in doing so. Instead of “stop stealing toys from your brother” we can say “mommy expects you to share with your brother.” You are not lessening the standard or letting them get away with anything, you are simply dwelling on the positive.
(3) Use books, tv, friends, etc as examples to praise. Praise is a powerful thing. In fact, for some it is a love language. By using our natural environment to find examples of rescuing, service and kind-heartedness we will be able to regularly drop the concept into conversation. “Look what Daisy Mae did on TV just then? Wasn’t that kind?” “Wow, that was so thoughtful of your friend to bring you that.” Praising them and praising others (not randomly but specifically so it is viewed as genuine) helps show your children where the standard is.
We can’t be everything to everyone and must maintain healthy boundaries, but we can love and serve others. In fact, we are called to do so. It can be a daunting thing to try to start this habit later in life, and that’s why we as mothers are privileged to be able to spend time now instilling these values into our children. Do you want to join me in this effort on Raising Rescuers? Read more.